New time of day.
A mid-day oasis.
A sabbatical from the morning crush.
No scramble to find a seat.
Tourists staring out the window.
Day visitors chattering.
Students with headphones bobbing their heads.
And a smattering of Suits.
The Sun beams through the windows overheating the railcars.
The train clacks Se détendre. Se détendre. Relax.
We pull into Grand Central at 3:51 pm, 10 minutes late.
The crowd meanders out of the car.
I zig zag around them.
I have a 4pm call and need to get out of the tunnels to get a cell signal.
The escalator to the Exit is out of order. I look up the stairs. Way up. And groan.
I take them. One at a time.
Counting them off.
I look up. Dear God. I’m only about half way there. Where the h*ll is the Oasis now.
Heaving now. Gasping for air. Middle age wheels are coming off.
I steal a peak at my watch. 3:58 pm. 2 minutes until the start of my call.
Pay attention. A toe stub would be a calamity, serious mellon damage.
A backward tumble is unimaginable.
3 steps left.
76.77.78. Could this be what a heart attack feels like?
I dig into my bag. And pair my bluetooth ear piece to my phone.
“Good afternoon everyone. I’m going to put my phone on mute. Please take the lead.”
Wow, I managed to get that out.
Superman leans against the sign post on Madison and 46th.
The chattering continues in his right ear
as he watches the yellow cabs flying by.
The delivery trucks.
All a symphony. An orchestra.
He waits for the Walk signal pondering the antidote to his Kryptonite.
And there it is.
“The world, whatever we might think about it, terrified by its vastness and by our helplessness in the face of it, embittered by its indifference to individual suffering – of people, animals, and perhaps also plants, for how can we be sure that plants are free of suffering; whatever we might think about its spaces pierced by the radiation of stars, stars around which we now have begun to discover planets, already dead? still dead? – we don’t know; whatever we might think about this immense theater, to which we may have a ticket, but it is valid for a ridiculously brief time, limited by two decisive dates; whatever else we might think about this world – it is amazing.”
~ Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska-Włodek (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist and translator. She was described as a “Mozart of Poetry”. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.
Image Credit. Thanks Lorne.
“We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.
Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day – the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?
It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.
When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.
In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
~ Mark Nepo
Pamela Druckerman, author of “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” shares 20 Lessons she has learned in her 40′s upon turning 44. Here’s a few nuggets from her article in the NY Times: What You Learn in Your 40′s:
3) Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”
4) There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
7) Emotional scenes are tiring and pointless. At a wedding many years ago, an older British gentleman who found me sulking in a corner helpfully explained that I was having a G.E.S. — a Ghastly Emotional Scene. In your 40s, these no longer seem necessary. For starters, you’re not invited to weddings anymore. And you and your partner know your ritual arguments so well, you can have them in a tenth of the time.
11) More about you is universal than not universal. My unscientific assessment is that we are 95 percent cohort, 5 percent unique. Knowing this is a bit of a disappointment, and a bit of a relief.
12) Just say “no.”
14) Do not buy those too small jeans, on the expectation that you will soon lose weight.
Read entire NY Times article here.
I know. I know. I am a handsome devil.
Image Credit: Paul Meriweather
We wait for the phone to ring.
For the obligatory college briefing call.
(As long as you feed from the trough, you’ll call home on Sunday. Non-negotiable.)
Rachel jabbering. Eric tight lipped…leaking information on a need-to-know basis.
Not last night.
Big day for me on Tuesday Dad.
I forgot it’s his 20th birthday.
You forgot right?
Of course not.
Of course you did.
You know that I’m leaving for El Salvador on Saturday.
I’ll be taking vitals…blood pressure, temperature…and recording it.
Dad, I’ve been told there will be thousands, all waiting for medical care.
We’ll be readying patients for the doctors and dentists.
And then feeding homeless at night.
I’m dressing for work this morning.
I check the weather app. -5° F with wind chill.
How many children are huddled and shivering in the cold? Hungry. A soda can and not much else in the fridge for breakfast. Not in El Salvador. Here. Right here.
I reach for a t-shirt. Folded. Stacked. Clean. White.
I’m drawn to the label. I squint to read the small print.
XL 100% Pima Cotton. Machine wash warm with like colors. Only non-chlorine bleach if needed. Tumble Dry Low. Warm Iron if needed. Made in Bangladesh.
Made in Bangladesh.
Image Source: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
“The enchantment of the sky, ever changing beauty almost ignored. Beyond words, without fixed form, not to be understood, or stated. It ravished away dullness, worry, even pain. It graces life when nothing else does. It is the first marvel of the day. Even when leaden grey it is still a friend, withdrawn for a time.”
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days
Image Credit: Natgeo
dk: Lately or average?
dk: Bit testy, no? Ice cream and pasta.
G: Do unto others…?
dk: Come on Father. I can’t believe we’re all created in your image.
G: Do unto others…?
dk: Oh for G…Sakes. (Sorry) Some of them deserved it.
dk: No. Closer to celibacy. Desert here Father. Monk. Parched.
dk: Mostly. Yes.
dk: OK. OK. There’s work to be done here.
G: Be sure you wear your thermals.
G: And, don’t forget your tuk and mittens.
Ben & Jerry’s releases four ice cream flavors with gooey ‘Core’. The four new flavors are:
- Hazed & Confused: chocolate and hazelnut ice creams with fudge chips and a hazelnut fudge core
- *That’s My Jam: raspberry and chocolate ice creams with fudge chips and a raspberry core
- Peanut Butter Fudge: chocolate and peanut butter ice creams with mini peanut butter cups and a peanut butter fudge core
- Salted Caramel: sweet cream ice cream with blonde brownies and a salty caramel core
Source: NY Daily News
* DK favorite. Thank you Rachel. Exactly what I needed.
“Pay attention to when the cart is getting before the horse. Notice when a painful initiation leads to irrational devotion, or when unsatisfying jobs start to seem worthwhile. Remind yourself pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account [that] the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help.”
- David McRaney
Quote Source: Brainpickings - The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters. Image from Amazon.
Where’s Caleb on Hump Day? Merzouga, Morocco. Here he’s posing with his friend before a long walk in the desert…
Source: Russell Bevan
Two weeks running.
Every day. Every day.
The commute in. The ride home.
It opens the day. It closes the doors.
Same tune. One tune.
Over. And over. And over.
[John Waters: “Without obsession, life is nothing.”]
From end to end.
The tune on a loop three to six times depending on traffic.
↓ click for audio (Harry Chapin – “All My Life’s A Circle”)
The Big Gato waits. Crouched.
Tapping his fingers on the seat. Impatient.
Waiting for Chapin to stop jabbering.
And then it comes. 4:30 on the running time.
I crank the volume up.
The dashboard vibrates.
Chapin cues him up.
Michael, the Cellist. Man Singing with Soul.
DK and the rest of the band join him to belt it out to the finish:
All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
The Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.
All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
The Seasons’ spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.
Image Source: MTVhive
Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”
~ Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Quote Source: Brain Pickings - Life Is Like Blue Jelly: Margaret Mead Discovers the Meaning of Existence in a Dream. Image: Unknown.
You’ll read the papers later today. They’ll say:
- Undefeated and decisive. (Toronto Global & Mail)
- Smothering (National Post)
- Dominating. (NY Times)
- Relentless. (Chicago Tribune)
- Four lines deep that just kept coming. (Toronto Star)
We watched you lock arms and sing O Canada. We sang along teary eyed. Our bodies tingled as we watched our Maple Leaf raised.
From all Canadians and ex-pats, Bravo Men.
Gold. Canada Gold.
4:45 am. Wednesday morning. Hump Day.
I lay in bed. I glance left to the window. It’s dark. Quiet.
Zeke nuzzles closer.
I close my eyes.
What’s it going to be?
1/2 way back. 3/4 way back. All Better?
I ease out of bed. And inhale.
A twinge. A bite. A grimace. An exhalation.
Let’s call it 75%.
Bit of grade inflation but we’re going with it.
I ease into the car.
The icicles on the eaves dripping.
Yes. Make it be Spring.
10:00 am meeting. Annoyances are whispy, floating in a thin ibuprofen haze in an otherwise cloudless sky. 10:14 am. Left eye begins to water. A fountain with intermittent spurts. The corneal abrasion roars out of remission and is shooting flares. 10:30 am. In the car, heading home. One hand over eye. The other keeping the wheel between the lanes, driving well below speed limit behind a semi trailer truck. 11:30 am. Sitting in darkness. Taking conference calls.
Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore; Give me to see, and Ajax asks no more. (Homer)
5:35 am. Thursday. Fever?
I pop 3 Extra Strength Tylenol. And start pounding on emails. My left elbow tingles. I pull my sweatshirt up. It’s swollen, baseball size and throbbing. WTH? Where? How? Why? Thoughts race. We’re in a bit of a rhythm here:
Left lower back.
Left corneal abrasion.
When it doesn’t feel right, go left.
And, if it doesn’t feel left?
Olympics? Sportsmanship? Right here.
In the midst of winter,
I found there was,
an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy.
For it says
that no matter how hard
the world pushes against me,
there’s something stronger—
pushing right back.
— Albert Camus, from The Stranger
12” snowfall overnight. DK working from home.
SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
SK: (Eye roll) You’re going to let me do it? Again?
DK: I’ll do it this afternoon after I finish my calls.
SK: No you won’t.
DK: Are you going to keep riding me on this all day?
3” of additional snowfall overnight.
SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No. Not before work. I’m not showering again.
DK: Just leave it until I return tonight. It will warm up and melt.
SK: Really? You’re kidding right? (She heads outside to shovel.)
DK: I told you to leave it. (She has this Thing about a clean driveway)
SK: How do you plan to get out?
DK: Get out of the way. I’m going to ram through the piles with the car.
DK ventures outside to clear the back steps. SK opens the door.
SK: Why don’t you use the steel edger/chopper to break the ice?
DK: Oh come on. Really? I’ve shoveled show before. Get inside.
SK: OK have it your way.
(Mumbling. Girl telling Canadian how to shovel snow. What’s next?)
I get after it.
I bend the show shovel trying to break the ice.
I lean on it to try bend it back.
I look through the back door to see if she’s watching.
Coast is clear.
I stomp through the snow to get to the garage to get the steel chopper.
I start slamming the ice.
On the third swing, I hit concrete.
Cold, vibrating steel.
Shooting, stabbing pain in my lower back.
Air whooshes out of my lungs.
I fall to my knees. (Dear God help me.)
SK: What’s wrong?
DK: My back.
SK: You’re joking, right?
DK: Does it look like a joke? (I crawl upstairs to bed.)
SK: (Laughing) Do you see any irony here?
DK: No. I don’t actually. None.
DK: I do see you getting enormous pleasure seeing me keeled over in pain.
SK: Oh, come on. Big Man clears 2-steps. I shovel massive piles of snow. (Still laughing)
DK: Stay away from me. Way back.
Snow forecast 3″-5” tonight.
As I told your Mom in our wedding vows,
I promise to love you fiercely too.
One day, when you’re a Mother, you’ll know the kind of love that I am talking about.
A love that makes my eyes well up with tears of joy when you simply hug me.
A love that moves me to rise from bed and check on you at three in the morning mostly because I just miss you when you sleep.
A love that makes it hard for me to let go of your hand when you try to balance on something because I know you need to learn from your mistakes.
I promise to look you in the eyes when you come to me with a problem.
I’ll always want to fix it for you right then and there.
I promise to listen as to whether you’ll want a hand or just an ear.
I promise to drop you off at college and when I do, I promise to do my best to contain my excitement for you so that I won’t embarrass you in front of your new friends.
I promise to have a reputation amongst your friends as a Dad that intimidates your boyfriends.
I promise to raise you to be strong and independent.
I promise to cry when I let go of your hand when I let go of your hand at the alter…
…I want you to know that every time when you open the door when I come home from work you’ll see a smile on my face
My arms already open ready to catch you
I’ll always be ready to catch you…
For you, Rachel…
Last Wednesday, this Man is walking down a Brooklyn street as two snow plows pass by. The action is recorded on an auto dealer’s security camera. ”Pedro, who was looking at his feet as he walked along the snow-covered sidewalk, says he had no idea the wave of slush was headed his way.” The force of the snow also broke the window of the dealer.
Following the brutal knockdown seen half a million times on the Internet, Pedro says, “I wake up and just go home.”
Pedro said he hadn’t heard from the city — and may file suit after the smack down. The unleashing of an avalanche of snow on an unsuspecting pedestrian is “not safe,” Pedro said. “It’s a problem.”
Source: NY Daily News
I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a straight back chair. I’m infused with a dull, throbbing haze. The prior evening included two cocktails, a late night dinner and four hours of sleep short of requirements for base level performance. A modest change in daily routine – having a disproportionate impact on operating equilibrium.
I’m sitting. Sort of. Restless. The metal bars on the seat back are leaving tracks, the comfort of r-bar. Rough, cold steel on skin. I’m twisting. Trying to find a comfort zone. Those seated behind me zig when I zag. I cross my leg one way. Then pull it back and scissor it over the other. I sit upright. I slouch. I throw my right arm over the back of the chair. Then the left. And then go through the cycle again.
I glance around. The room is fidgeting.
He walks onto the stage. He sits in a panel chair. He takes a drink of water. And waits for the interviewer’s first question.
He’s wildly successful.
A Horatio Alger story. He grew up in a family with modest means. His Father worked in government service. His Mother at home with the children.
The room is quiet. Locked-in.
His energy fills the room. His mind is whirring.
He shares his view and insights on a wide swath of territory. Domestic policy. Economy. Government. Immigration. Social issues. Philanthropy. The Arts. Conservation. His Love of Country.
And without breaking stride, he injects self-deprecating experiences.
We’re in his web.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I’m 6x years old. My Father passed away about this age. When you are 50, you believe you have another half to go. When you turn 60, there’s a keen realization that 2/3rd’s is gone. A shift from a ‘lot to go’ to ‘what’s left’. I don’t know when…when my mind or body will no longer permit me to keep up the pace. But I have a lot that I want do…a lot I need to accomplish.
He pauses. Reflects. And continues. (The wildly successful man continues…)
A: What I really worry about is getting “that call” at night on one of our children. He shakes his head. Let’s set that aside. I worry about my children growing up with appropriate balance, with the appropriate values, given that they have been surrounded by great wealth. That is why I plan to give most of it away. At the end of the day, I want my children to be happy.
That is all that matters.
That is all that matters to me.
Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm:
TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.
- They appreciate what they have
- They avoid asking “what if”
- They stay positive
- They disconnect
- They limit their caffeine intake
- They sleep
- They squash negative self-talk
- They re-frame their perspective
- They breathe
- They use their support-system
Read full article @ Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm
Thank you Tarique
This much is irrefutable: How you direct your gaze, where you place your energy and your conviction, how you tune your perception and with what integrity and attitude you offer yourself to the world means, well, everything. Why can’t this basic truth be broadened out to humanity as a whole?…
Maybe that’s a little much. Maybe it’s better to test it all out yourself, every day, on micro scale, to feel into what you really believe, what you know to be true at core level, versus what you’ve been fed, and by whom, and for what spurious purpose…
Who the hell told you you’re broken? Who told you you’re an addict, a loser, a Type-A, a manic depressive? Who said you’re too weak to quit smoking, to start exercising, to eat better, to find love or to quit being an overbearing jerk with zero redeeming qualities? Who told you humanity must operate a certain way? Who told you you’re full of trauma and rage? Who dared tell you you’re not already God? You really believe that? Good lord, why?
~ Mark Morford, Believe this and live forever
I bet you didn’t know…that Caleb is ticklish!
Luhrmann doesn’t want to give in to the pressure to repeat himself. During the making of “Gatsby,” he said, he felt challenged and alive, “not panicked that somehow the universe was leaving me behind.” That is the way he needs to feel about his next project, whatever it is. “I’d love to have done James Bond,” he said. “I’d love to just go and do a rom-com or a jeans-and-T-shirt film, because that would be fun.” But he can’t. “It is both maddening and also has a degree of exultation about it, but I’m addicted to doing not that which I really want to do, but that which I feel must be done.” His job now, he said, is “to draw some kind of lines. I have a big inner life. My struggle is how to organize it. How to aim the gun.”
~ Amy Wallace on Baz Luhrmann, Do I or Do I Not Want To Do? (How to Decide)?
Mark Anthony “Baz” Luhrmann, 51, is an Australian film director, screenwriter and producer best known for The Red Curtain Trilogy, comprising his films Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!. In 2008, his film Australia was released, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. His version of The Great Gatsby was released in 2013. On 26 January 1997, he wed Catherine Martin, a production designer; the couple has two children. (Source: Wiki)
Source: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
OK, I need help interpreting the illustration:
- She’s single and sleeping alone. Courting suitors?
- She’s married. Shares her bed.
- She’s married. Shares her bed with another. Their child.
- The family gets a dog. Dog sleeps in bed. Less room on bed. (This is all sounding close to home.)
- She’s pushed out of bed by husband, child and dog? Further separation?
- Empty Nesters pull together?
- She’s alone. (Husband deceased? Divorced?) Finds peace in meditation and being alone?
Source: “Passages” – NY Times Sunday Book Review
For more: And this is why women live longer than men…
My journey from NYC westward continues. A five hour non-stop flight has morphed into a surreal 2 day experience with stops at JFK (with 2 plane changes), LGA (with full airport evacuation), Detroit and Chicago. This is the last leg of the journey. (Prior posts for this trip are referenced below along with the post dedication.)
The 45 minute hop from Detroit to Chicago was quiet. No chop. A Quiet cabin. Light snow was falling in Chicago carpeting the catering trucks and the luggage carriers. A slender, stoop-shouldered man guided the aircraft in. His hoodie was covered in snow. His fluorescent batons offered a soft illumination. It’s feeling a lot like Christmas Eve. In February.
The City that works. The Machinery was humming this evening. Plows. Sand trucks. Baggage handlers. Crew. De-icers coating the aircraft in a lemon colored bath. A beautiful orchestra. All to get us somewhere safely. I’m feeling gratitude.
My Son was born here. In Chicago. I burroughed deep and back to find a moment. Susan is pulling him on a red sled to greet me as I walk home from the train station returning from work. His chubby cheeks are red. His hair is matted and wet from layers of clothing. His smile…a lighthouse beacon. His arms reaching up. “Dada! Dada!” I reach down to grab him. I hold him close. I can feel his warm breath on my neck as he nuzzles. I miss my son often. And especially when I’m tired. Like now. When the aching just won’t stop.
Cheryl found me eerily calm during this journey. I had many hours to contemplate why. She no longer covered my business and left about the time I started blogging. This hobby. This community. This labor of love. This stringing of words together and having someone actually care to read it. A miracle drug. It stills and softens the mind. It injects peace where none formerly existed. Albert Camus said “In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” This. THIS allows me to turn away from the world.
My finger lingers over the Publish button. The cabin is dark with the exception of a handful of us hunched over our screens. 35,000 feet in the air, my wireless icon is flashing. I’m wired.
It’s a miracle. All of it.
Me. Family. Our dog. Friends. You, yes you, reading this. This iPad. My Eye sight. This plane flying. Pizza. (I’m famished.)
All of it.
Too big to figure out.
Too important not to find a small corner of it to call my own.
My finger hovers over the Publish button again. Proof read it again? Is it too much? Is it over the top? Is it good enough?
Friend, you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The only question that matters to help you decide if you should hit Publish:
Is it a miracle?
Same trip – related posts:
- Just another manic Monday
- Star Log: Flight DL2282. The Epilogue.
- Flight Log DL1131: Y.C.M.T.S.U.
- Flight Log: Motor City USA
This post is dedicated to Shara who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to book and re-book flights, get seat assignments, and keep me moving forward to my destination at all hours of the day and night. Thank you Shara.